Leninist critiques of anarchism

Marxism versus anarchism, Carlene Wilson, Permanent Revolution, No.3 (no date) [Permanent Revolution].

Marx versus Bakunin: Part Five, Alan Woods, In Defence of Marxism, March 9, 2010 | Anarchism [International Marxist Tendency].

Marxism and anarchism, Paul Blackledge, International Socialism Journal, No.125, Winter 2010 [International Socialist Tendency (SWP)].

The proletarian party, democracy, and planning under workers’ rule, Eric Gordon, September 16, 2009 | Articles on anarchism [Communist Voice, “for the rebirth of communism by fighting for anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism”].

The Historical Failure of Anarchism, Chris Day, 1996/2009 [kasamaproject.org].

When anarchism was put to the test, Josh Lees, October 14, 2008 | Is there anything radical about anarchism?, Mick Armstrong, June 11, 2007 [Socialist Alternative].

The contradictions of Noam Chomsky, Steven Strauss, Freedom Socialist, Vol.29, No.5, October 2008 [Freedom Socialist Party].

Anarchism or Marxism?, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info, August 26, 2007 [Committee for a Workers’ International/Socialist Party].

See also : Marx and Engels on Anarchism | Marxism, Anarchism, & the Genealogy of “Socialism From Below”, Tom Keefer, Upping the Anti, No.2, 2002.


Marxism vs. Anarchism, 2001, 56 pages, $2 [International Communist League
(Fourth Internationalist)/Spartacist League of Australia].

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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22 Responses to Leninist critiques of anarchism

  1. Grumpy Cat says:

    Hi @ndy and others.

    I expect most of these to be pretty crap. I think the Chris Day article is worth a read, it was written at the very start of his turn to Maoism wasn’t it? So I don’t know how ‘Leninist’ it actually is.

  2. @ndy says:

    I used to read L&R back in the day, and Day’s essay was produced at about the time L&R was undergoing its final dissolution, and partly for the reasons he outlines in his essay by way of explaining his abandonment of anarchism, viz, the inability of anarchism, especially ‘classical anarchism’, to advance much beyond its then-current paradigm/theoretical formulation… or at least what he and (most, if not all) of L&R understood it to be. Obviously, I didn’t agree with his analysis, and still don’t, but I dunno if it’s worthwhile going over the reasons for my disagreement… that said, I see little point in doing anything much, so who knows, maybe I will.

    As for the rest, I think they’re fairly standard, and probably don’t depart very much from the line of critique developed first by Marx and Engels (First International), then Lenin (Russia/Third International) and Trotsky (Spain). I’ve tried to look for other sustained polemics online, but haven’t found any worth referencing above, but if anybody knows of any, feel free to link.

    See also:

    Maoism and Anarchism: Mao Zedong’s Response to the Anarchist Critique of Marxism
    John A. Rapp
    Anarchist Studies
    Vol.9, No.1 (2001)

    In this paper I use anarchism as a prism to analyse Mao’s political thought and ruling practice. First, I construct the best case possible for the populist, anti-statist Mao. Next, I present a contrary case, which shows the roots of Mao’s autocratic practice in the statist, authoritarian aspects of his ideology, leading to his failure to answer the anarchist critique of Marxism.

  3. Grumpy Cat says:

    I remember that Day started a group called The Fire by Night Organising Committee which seemed interesting before they melted in FRSO. I am right to think that this tendency moved to the Maoist ‘mass line’ through the Zapatista notion of ‘walking we ask questions?’

  4. @ndy says:

    Pretty much, yeah. That is, FBN (not FNB) and the FRSO (not FRSO). (L&R also produced Bring the Ruckus, which is still kicking.) Another major point of disagreement was to do with race — I think the Zaps may have been utilised in a way that underpinned arguments regarding the necessity of abandoning more strictly ideological approaches to radical social change. Oh, and Three Way Fight also has some disco on this and related subjects — by which I mean, primarily, the approach of white radicals to Qs. of race in the US/North American context.

    See also:

    Splitting with Anarchism (as Opposed to Anything Else)
    June 11, 2008

    We Are Family
    March 13, 2009


    Sketchy Thoughts: Drawing Lessons from Our Past – Lenin and Leninism
    September 25, 2009

    What can we draw from the past? And how do we draw things from the past? These questions, when you get down to it, are key to our project…

    More on Zeskind… and spotting!
    August 15, 2009

    Has stuff on Sojourner Truth et al. Zeskind is the US correspondent for Searchlight btw.

  5. Grumpy Cat says:

    I like Bring the Ruckus they remind me of cooler versions of US Maoism like The Sojourner Truth Collective.

  6. Grumpy Cat says:

    Whoops I mean organisation…

  7. @ndy says:

    Yeah. / Organization. d00d’s writing a book and stuff.

  8. @ndy says:

    Ha! I think this must be what Marxists call dialectics or something.

  9. Krabkin says:

    Word on the street is that the ISJ (international socialist journal) has a big ol’ article on anarchism.

  10. Lumpen says:

    I don’t really having anything to contribute, other than the picture in the post is fantastic. Source?

    Hmmm… But I can add that Spartacist #61 (Spring 2009) has an article called ‘Trotskyism vs Popular Frontism in the Spanish Civil War’. The Spart who sold me the journal knew me as an anarchist and highly recommended it for that reason, so it might be of interest.


  11. Thomas says:

    WOW the SAlt article’s criticism of lifestylists was good, but the stuff about Emma Goldman was SO RETARDED.

  12. @ndy says:

    Yeah. I already replied to that one.

    Anarchy: Against Capital, Against the State
    June 23, 2007

  13. Paul Justo says:

    J. V. Stalin wrote a series of articles against the Anarchists under the general title of Anarchism or Socialism? The first four instalments appeared in Akhali Tskhovreba in June and July 1906. The rest were not published as the newspaper was suppressed by the authorities. In December 1906 and on January 1, 1907, the articles that were published in Akhali Tskhovreba were reprinted in Akhali Droyeba, in a slightly revised form.


  14. @ndy says:

    Indeed. The edition I have was published by the Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1951; the translation based on the text provided in Uncle Joe’s Collected Works, Vol.1 (Moscow, 1946). Mostly, Uncle Joe is responding to some Georgian anarchist called Cherkezishvili and his scribblings in a paper called Nobati.

    As you see, Messieurs the Anarchists know as much about the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Paris Commune, and Marxism, which they so often “criticise,” as you and I, dear reader, know about the Chinese language.

    Clearly, there are two kinds of dictatorship. There is the dictatorship of the minority, the dictatorship of a small group, the dictatorship of the Trepovs and Ignatyevs, which is directed against the people. This kind of dictatorship is usually headed by a camarilla which adopts secret decisions and tightens the noose around the neck of the majority of the people.

    Marxists are the enemies of such a dictatorship, and they fight such a dictatorship far more stubbornly and self-sacrificingly than do our noisy Anarchists.


  15. Grumpy Cat says:

    Hi all. Chris Day’s article is worth reading because it is a sincere attempt to think through important questions as opposed to most Trot stuff on anarchism which is about recruiting and neat ideological lines. Though the piece in Melbourne Black on Marxism was just as bad as as anything I have read by SAlt on Anarchism. Pot calling Kettle.
    rebel love

  16. Pingback: Anarchism versus Leninism « Poumista

  17. I was recently reading copies of the Revolutionary Socialist League’s ‘The Torch’ from 1988 and Chris Day has basically the same critique then, long before Love & Rage dissolves. I used to think he “abandoned” anarchism, but now I think he was always an entryist.

    Also of note are a MIM #8 theoretical journal on anarchism from 1995 (http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/mt/mt8.html); there is a (US) RCP one; and also an International Bolshevik Tendency pamphlet on platformism (scroll through http://www.bolshevik.org).

  18. @ndy says:

    The Anarchist Ideal and Communist Revolution [incomplete] (MIM Theory, No.8) and International Bolshevik Tendency pamphlet on platformism.


    Anarchist Organization and Vanguardism: In Defense of Leninism, 1917, No.29 (January 2007); James P. Cannon on Anarchism (PDF), No.20 (1998); From Sacco and Vanzetti to Mumia Abu-Jamal, No.25 (2003), Neutrality in the Face of Imperialism, No.26 (2004).

  19. @ndy says:

    Contemporary anarchism
    Eric Kerl
    International Socialist Review
    No.72 (July–August 2010)

    Review: International Socialist Review on “Contemporary Anarchism”
    Tom Wetzel
    ideas & action
    July 3, 2010

  20. @ndy says:

    Karl Marx & the State
    David Adam (Marxist-Humanist Initiative)
    September 6, 2010

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